How Does a Diabetic Eye Exam Differ From a Traditional Exam?

Diabetes can affect your body in various ways, including your eyes. It can increase the risk of developing multiple eye conditions. That is why doctors recommend regular eye examinations to protect your eye health. More than 40 percent of patients with diabetes in the U.S. have some form of diabetic retinopathy. But do standard eye examinations differ from diabetic eye exams? If they do, how are they different?


Diabetic and Standard Eye Exams

Eye doctors use standard eye exams to determine vision and eye health. At the beginning of the examination, your eye doctor will ask questions about your medical history and eyesight. You can also expect the following:


  • Evaluation of your eye health

  • Measurement of your eye pressure

  • Visual acuity test, and more

Some tests aim to determine whether you need corrective eyewear, while others check for eye disease and assess your eye health. Your eye doctor will use various lights, instruments, and equipment to examine your eyes. You will not experience pain during your exam, but you may experience some discomfort. With standard eye exams, eye doctors monitor vision changes, help keep eyes healthy, and detect eye problems.


Diabetic Eye Exam

A diabetic eye exam is a comprehensive assessment of the health of various parts of the eye vulnerable to diabetes. It checks for conditions like diabetic retinopathy that may develop before a patient notices any vision changes. 

This exam aims to identify problems in the optic nerve or the retina before you experience any vision loss. Your eye doctor may also use a retinal exam to monitor the progression of an already diagnosed eye condition. Some of the eye conditions you are likely to develop when you have diabetes include:


  • Diabetic retinopathy

  • Ocular muscle palsies

  • Diabetic macular edema

  • Optic neuropathy

  • Cataracts

  • Glaucoma

Conditions like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy often have no early symptoms. That is why eye care professionals recommend that people with diabetes get annual diabetic eye exams, which can vary in scope and length. The procedures and tests commonly performed during the exam include visual acuity testing, pupil dilation, fundoscopy, fundus photography, and glaucoma testing.


How Do Diabetic Eye Exams and Traditional Eye Exams Differ?

Apart from the types of tests performed during the exams, the two differ in the following aspects:



A standard eye exam is essential for everyone, diabetics and nondiabetics alike. Eye doctors recommend annual comprehensive eye exams. Unfortunately, most people do not visit their eye doctors annually. They run the risk of a condition developing and progressing unchecked each year that goes by without an eye exam.

Average visits should occur every six months for those more susceptible to eye conditions. After the initial exam, the ADA recommends annual diabetic eye exams to check the health of your eyes. These visits are still necessary even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. 


Focus on Eye Health

In a diabetic eye exam, your eye doctor will check your eyes for signs of disease using various tools. Your eye doctor may use the same tools to assess your eye health during a standard eye exam.

If you have diabetes, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor who can adequately administer a diabetic eye exam. The doctor should have the proper knowledge and tools to care for your eyes effectively. 


For more information on diabetic eye exams, contact Norwood Family Eye Care at our Bartlett, Tennessee office. Call 901-617-8095 to schedule an appointment today.

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